Tag Archives: malema

South Africa – EFF’s Malema at anti-xenophobia rally; shots fired from hostel

Daily Maverick

Gunshots and Gogos: The EFF rallies against xenophobia in Alexandra

  • Richard Poplak
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On Tuesday Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters visited the Johannesburg township of Alexandra for an anti-xenophobia rally. Slogans were yelled. Shots rang out. Where is this all getting us? By RICHARD POPLAK.

It is now day whatever of the re-upped South African xenophobia phantasmagoria, the day after the publication of James Oatway’s photographs of the slaying of a Mozambican national named Emmanuel Sithole, the day during which everyone’s favourite colonial construct—the R63-million-a-year “traditional leader” hood ornament that is King Goodwill Zwelithini—blamed both a third force and the media for misquoting the anti-foreigner rant that kick-started this whole nightmare. Across this nation, anti-xenophobia rallies competed with pro-xenophobia utterances in a cycle that shows no signs of winding down. On the one hand, a South Africa that is deeply horrified by its own unfathomable hatred. On the other hand, a South Africa that remains determined to purge itself of anyone who isn’t from here—whatever “here” means on a continent rendered incomprehensible by pretend borders drafted in nineteenth-century Germany.

On Monday the King spoke at an imbizo at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium, while prominent ANC hacks looked on and nodded sagely. “If indeed I have called you to arms this country will be in ashes as we speak,” said the King. “But I’m saying let’s arm for peace‚ now I’m instigating you to mobilise for peace.” No prominent political figure has had the balls to heel Zwelithini, mostly because he comes bearing votes, and to denounce him would be suicide at the polls. That may be. But it renders the world out there a strange one, full of half-steps and juddering attempts to denounce chauvinism while ensuring that one of the more obvious hangovers of colonial Divide et impera gets to speak to stadiums populated by bussed-in extras—most of whom made it abundantly clear that they agreed with the King’s “misquoted” sentiments, and not with his attempts to render them anodyne.

Meanwhile, in the townships of Johannesburg, where complicated communities of actual human beings—Africans from all over Africa, who live amongst each other, teach each other, serve each other, feed each other, love each other, rob each other, help each other—were used as props in a narrative that has become increasingly surreal. Alexandra, the famed township in which so much struggle Sturm und Drang was set, remains a theatre for this sort of thing. Its crumbling brick hostel, which garrisoned Zulus during the Apartheid years, has seen better days—and its best days were bad days. During last year’s election, it disgorged hundreds of men who claimed that the Independent Election Commission had fudged the counting of a ballot box in favour of the ANC. They rioted in the streets, and in came Nyalas, choppers, patrol cars, bulletproof trucks of no known provenance, police, the army, a phalanx of men and women armed to the teeth and ready to kill in order to save the illusory dignity of our illusory democracy.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, Alexandra was just Alexandra, a stage for an Economic Freedom Fighters anti-xenophobia rally that would be addressed by Commander in Chief Julius Malema himself. Unlike President Zuma, Malema appears genuinely upset by the bulk murder of black Africans on local soil. The plan, as I understood it, was to stage the rally and speech at the Alexandra women’s hostel, a dismal living memory of the Apartheid years that should’ve been razed to the ground in 1994.

Nonetheless, there it stood, and there we stood at roughly 16h00, waiting for the CiC and his entourage to show up and address the gathering crowd. That plan, it turned out, was not the plan, or at least not in full. After the rangy Arafat Sello, head of communications for Johannesburg, yelled out the now depressingly familiar slogans—“Down with xenophobia, down”, “Forward United States of Africa, forward”—it became clear that we were to march to the men’s hostel at the end of the drag.

That seemed unwise for several reasons, the most urgent being that some really bad dudes live in the joint, and they’d likely consider this an act of war.

“Where are they going?” asked an older gentleman who gave his name as Samuel. After I described our itinerary, he shook his head. “Write this down in your book: it’s not a good idea to walk to the hostel,” he said. “They’re going to be violent, these guys. They make it look like a Zulu thing, but it’s just a few guys. They”—by which he meant the EFF—“think they are fixing. They’re not.”

“Tell them to write a letter,” added a second man. “Not like this.”

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Photo: Residents of the Alexandra men’s hostel look at the EFF march against xenophobia. Minutes later, shots were fired from a window of the hostel into the EFF crowd, injuring one person. (Greg Nicolson)

Unheeding, the EFF rally chanted across the road from the hostel, othering all of those inside. As I stood dutifully scribbling Samuel’s words into my notebook, I heard the pop of gunfire. I looked up and saw muzzle flashes from one of the high windows, and heard four more shots. Screaming. Mayhem. Angry sloganeering. The crowd reared back, and I soon learned that a Fighter had been hit in the leg. Fellow Fighters formed a protective circle around him, shielding him from the media. He seemed rather nonchalant about the whole thing, despite the gaping hole in his khaki slacks.

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Photo: The man injured when shots were fired from the hostel is taken for care. He was shot in the leg. (Greg Nicolson)

The Cops, you ask? Clearly you haven’t been paying attention these past few weeks. A compromised ballot box brought out an armed force that could take down ISIS. A thug shooting indiscriminately into a crowd didn’t summon so much as a patrol car. An ambulance did eventually show up, and it carted the injured man away. Count that as a small victory against the forces of all-consuming Chaos.

Battle-stunned, the Fighters made their way back toward the women’s hostel, until a Silver Mercedes van roared down the street. Out jumped the CiC, along with commissars Dali Mpofu and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. They stood on the back of bakkie, as dusk descended on the township. The CiC slammed his way through a passionate speech that was half a cry for African unity, and half a campaign stop on the long road to Mahlamba Ndlopfu.

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Photo: Young men on a rooftop watch EFF leader Julius Malema address his supporters in Alexandra. (Greg Nicolson)

Wearing a grey hoodie, faded blue jeans and a red beret, Malema got right to it. “When you arrived here [in Alex], you arrived in a township that was established by force, in order for the people to be closer to work. But you kill a fellow African because African life is cheap!”

He reminded the crowd of the non-existent line between xenophobia and criminality, and implored them to take back the streets. “These borders are not our borders,” he yelled. “These borders are imposed on us by the colonisers. I have come here to plead with you. There is no Zulu king telling you to kill people. The King has never said that. He is just speaking against criminals.” Following that piece of gentle sophistry, he got down to business. “No Zimbabwean has taken your job. You want a job, go to Luthuli House. Take every Zimbabwean back to Zimbabwe, and you will still be unemployed. You can kill all the people of Zimbabwe, and you will still die in poverty.”

And then the kicker: “Your problem is the ANC.”

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Photo: EFF leader Julius Malema salutes his supporters in Alex on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

The anti-xenophobia rally now devolved—or, rather evolved—into a campaign rally, because in South Africa the election cycle never ends. Showing significant moxy, Malema and his crew walked into the streets of Alex, and we followed him into warrens of zinc that lead us into the homes of two gogos. It was a splendid show: the son of a shack returning to the sounds and smells of his Limpopo childhood, folding himself onto a small seat and speaking with the dazzled owner about the issues of the day.

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Photo: An EFF member protests xenophobia after the EFF’s Julius Malema had left the area on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

After half an hour of this, the CiC got back into his van and tore off. Alexandra after a political event still keeps the buzz, but it eventually dies down, and the bustle of normal life returns. Normal life in Alexandra is normal life in most communities in South Africa—folks just getting by one way or another.

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Photo: A young girl holds a sign protesting against xenophobia after the EFF’s Julius Malema had left the area on Monday. (Greg Nicolson)

“We are a peaceful people,” Malema said. But that isn’t true. The hatred is always there; it never goes away, it cannot be rallied into negligibility. It’s a self-hatred that manifests as hatred of the other; it’s mass suicide dressed up as mass murder. That said, it is easily tapped, easily used, and makes for some splendid photo-ops. DM

Main photo: The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Julius Malema and Dali Mpofu lead supporters on a short tour of Alexandra against xenophobia. (Greg Nicolson)

South Africa xenophobic attacks on Africans

Daily Maverick

South Africa: The place of shame, violence and disconnect

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“South Africans are generally not xenophobic”, President Jacob Zuma said in Parliament on Thursday. What are we generally? Complacent? Angry? Fed up? Who knows what the true state of this nation is. However our default position whenever we are under pressure is to resort to violence. It is our thing. Like the French are known for romance and the British are known for being snooty. We are defined by violence – from the roads to our homes to the streets to Parliament and to our bedrooms. We came from violence and we always go back to it. And for as long as violence is our means of engagement, something extraordinary needs to happen to heal our nation. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

On Thursday morning, the office of the National Police Commissioner issued a media statement announcing the activation nationally of joint operational centres to “coordinate response to unrest”. Speaking in Parliament later in the day, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, referred to “flashpoints” he and other government officials had visited. “Unrest” and “flashpoints” were part of the South African lexicon in the 80s and early 90s. It was the time when a low-intensity civil war was raging, and political violence and bloodshed were part of our daily lives.

And so we are back to what we were, a nation with unrest and flashpoints. A country where mobs sharpen their machetes and vow to kill in front of a wall of riot policemen poised to fire. That was the image of Apartheid South Africa. Now it is the image of post-democracy South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma is credited with being one of the leaders who negotiated the peace deal in KwaZulu-Natal that saw those words and images fade away. He knows what it takes to stop marauding, bloodthirsty mobs from wreaking havoc. And he knows that a heavy police presence is only a temporary solution when people are on a campaign of violence.

Brokering a cessation of violence is one of the things Zuma can do. He knows it takes a multi-pronged approach that involves going to the ground, listening to grievances, disarming those perpetrating violence and mapping a way forward that everyone involved commits to. Zuma wrote the manual on how that is done, and for that reason was dispatched to other parts of Africa to assist in peace processes.

And yet the outbreak and spread of xenophobic violence in different parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is being dealt with as if it is a service delivery protest or labour dispute that a heavy police deployment can deal with.

It cannot. This is violence with the intention to kill and destroy lives.

The attacks against foreign nationals have been described as “corrective violence”. Like with “corrective rape”, it is a forceful means to take matters into your own hands and attempt to change what you do not approve of. In the swirl of commentary and analysis to try to understand the xenophobic attacks, it is suggested that “corrective violence” is the means frustrated South Africans are using to rid their areas of crime and drug abuse and chasing away foreigners who take away their jobs and economic opportunities.

After years of unemployment, poverty and crime reaching endemic proportions, with no relief coming from those in authority, people are taking matters into their own hands, driven by anger and desperation. It is this what has caused people to lose their humanity and resort to violence their means of engagement.

How then would heavier policing defuse such a situation? Who should be listening to, understanding the desperation, and providing the long-term solution?

A special debate in Parliament was a good gesture to demonstrate that everyone from the president to leaders of all political parties were concerned by the xenophobic attacks and were willing to address the matter publicly. While there were many, many words of condemnation against the attacks, and a hefty dose of finger pointing as to why they were happening, the parliamentary debate will have no effect in stopping the violence.

It is the symptom of the very disconnect that has brought us to the point where ordinary people believe that nobody is listening and nobody cares. While the debate on the attacks on foreign nationals was in progress in Parliament, a mob of people was trying to attack the peace march in Durban against xenophobia. These were South Africans wanting to attack other South Africans demonstrating their opposition to violence against other Africans.

Had the police not held off the mob, including through firing water canons at them, what would have happened had they reached the City Hall where the march of about 3,000 people ended? Would there have been another parliamentary debate to condemn the chaos and possible loss of life that would have occurred? How would the reign of terror stop?

During the debate, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said the state had taught South Africans that violence was the only way to deal with issues. He cited police killing people at Marikana and in service delivery protests, and his party being forcibly removed from the National Assembly during the State of the Nation Address as examples of this.

Perhaps that may be true, but violence is deeply embedded into the fabric of our society. Violence was used to fight the unjust system of Apartheid and by the former regime to suppress the struggle. The democratic state is mimicking the Apartheid state, again to suppress opposition. And people now use violence against others in the belief they are also fighting a just cause.

Violence is also used as a means to take what does not belong to us, to demonstrate that we have the right of way, the right to violate other people’s bodies and to demand attention.

When we can’t spill blood, we spill shit. When we are done burning tyres, we burn people.

It is all part of the dialect of this tormented nation.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said greed, corruption and disrespect for the rule of law was rampant in our society, and while poverty was endemic, leaders were interested in lining their pockets. Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said there was an “evil spirit” running around the country and there were no positive values. African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said South Africans need anger management and to pray. Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said “our humanity is slipping away from us”.

Zuma spoke of new measures to better regulate migration and the deployment of the security cluster and economic departments to deal with the problems.

But who is going to go to the streets and townships to tell those brandishing weapons, assaulting people and looting shops to stop what they are doing? Who will stop the fear and loathing in communities? Who is going to realise the great disconnect between those in leadership and the people on the ground who would not have the benefit of listening to the parliamentary debate?

It came to this precisely because of the disconnect. Leaders across society become separated from the people they serve and therefore get shocked when they go on a rampage. South Africa is the shame of the continent and a deviant of the world, and will continue being so until it changes its culture and values.

Xenophobia, unrest and flashpoints will not go away unless there is a serious national effort to address the multiple collision of problems – the failure of leadership, the economic decline, crime, corruption, abuse and the lack of humanity, decency and values.

South Africa needs to be defined by something new, something better, something that will give us a reason to believe once more. We need hope in time of hopelessness. We need leadership in leaderless years. We need to feel our humanity, we need to feel our goodness. This angry violent nation needs to emerge from the shame of being amongst the wretched of the earth. It might be difficult to see it right now, but we, South Africans, deserve better. DM

Photo: Local South African men dance and sing as they call for foreign shop owners to leave the area after xenophobic violence in the area in Actonville, Johannesburg, South Africa, 16 April 2015. Police searched the mens hostels for weapons used by local South African men against foreign African’s after five people have been killed during recent xenophobia attacks that started in Durban. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK


South Africa – march against xenophobia

BBC

South Africa’s Durban city rallies against xenophobia

Thousands of people take part in the "peace march" against xenophobia in Durban, South Africa, on 16 April 2015
Attacks on foreigners have spread across South Africa in recent weeks

Up to 5,000 people have taken part in a rally against xenophobia in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban following attacks on foreigners.

President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence, which have claimed at least five lives, as “shocking”, and called for calm to be restored.

The Zulu king has been accused of fuelling the attacks. He denies this.

Many jobless South Africans accuse foreigners of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.

“No amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” President Zuma told parliament on Thursday.

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For the latest news, views and analysis see the BBC Africa Live page.

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Beautiful sight’

Protesters marched through Durban chanting “Down with xenophobia” and “A United Africa”, led by the city mayor and the premier of KwaZulu Natal province.

Marcher Vanessa Govender told the BBC: “It’s just a mammoth show of support for all those foreigners who have fallen victim to the past two weeks of xenophobic violence.”

Police officers advance to enter men's hostel after xenophobic violence in the area overnight forced foreign shop owners to close their shops for fear of attack in Actonville, Johannesburg on 16 April 2015
Riot police tried to prevent further attacks on foreigners in eastern Johannesburg on Thursday

As the march was held, anti-immigrant protesters clashed with police, but were reportedly dispersed by water cannon and pepper spray.

The latest wave of violence against foreigners erupted in the Durban area before spreading to other parts of the country.

In Johannesburg on Thursday, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a crowd chanting anti-immigrant slogans after attacks on foreign-owned shops. Dozens of migrants sought refuge in a police station.

Malawi has said it would evacuate its nationals from South Africa and Kenya says it is preparing to do the same. Mozambique has set up border camps to cope with the exodus of its citizens.

Foreign nationals pack up their shops in the small village of Primrose, near Germiston about 15kms east of Johannesburg, on 16 April 2015
Foreign nationals were seen closing up their shops near Johannesburg on Thursday
Makeshift camp for foreigners outside Durban, 15 April 2015
Some are seeking refuge from the violence in makeshift camps such as this one outside Durban

Hate speech

Many foreigners, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks that swept South Africa in 2008.

The government-backed South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating complaints of hate speech made against Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

He was widely quoted as saying last month that foreigners should “go back to their countries”. However, he said that his comments had been distorted.

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Are you in Durban? What is your reaction to the march against xenophobia? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your experience.

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South Africa – Zuma says people are not generally xenophobic

Usual Zuma fudge – seems the country is seething with Goodwill towards other Africans.KS

Mail and Guardian

Condemning the attacks on foreign nationals, Jacob Zuma also says South Africans are generally not xenophobic.

President Jacob Zuma called on the country to remain calm in the face of the violence spreading through KwaZulu-Natal and not to use social media to enflame the xenophobic attacks spreading through the country.

No amount of frustration or anger can justify attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops, President Jacob Zuma said this afternoon. In his first detailed public response to xenophobic attacks that started in several areas of KwaZulu-Natal last week Zuma said it was the responsibility of all South Africans to promote social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and good relations.

Zuma today called on the country to remain calm in the face of the violence spreading in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng and discouraged South Africans from using social media to fuel the flames of xenophobic attacks. 

Addressing the National Assembly this afternoon, Zuma said the attacks violated all the values that South Africa embodied, especially respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu.

“We appeal for calm, an end to the violence and restraint. Criminal elements should not be allowed to take advantage of the concerns of citizens to sow mayhem and destruction. Any problems or issues of concern to South African citizens must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue.

“The police have been directed to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence,” said Zuma.

Zuma said while government strongly condemned the attacks, it was aware of and sympathetic to some of the concerns raised by South African citizens in relation to socio-economic issues, concerns the president said were receiving attention. 

“These include complaints about illegal and undocumented immigrants in the country, the increase in the number of shops or small businesses that have been taken over by foreign nationals and also perceptions that foreign nationals commit or perpetrate crime. We wish to emphasise that while some foreign nationals have been arrested for various crimes, it is misleading and wrong to label or regard all foreign nationals as being involved in crime in the country,” said Zuma. 

“We reiterate our view that South Africans are generally not xenophobic. If they were, we would not have such a high number of foreign nationals who have been successfully integrated into communities all over our country, in towns, cities and villages.”

Zuma’s address to the National Assembly was delayed for almost an hour as Members of Parliament debated what should take priority for the president’s appearance in the House, with Economic Freedom Fighters MPs calling for Zuma to first answer the question about when is he planning to pay back a portion of the money used to upgrade his private Nkandla home. Zuma was interrupted and the Parliamentary session suspended in August last year when he was asked the same question.

EFF leader Julius Malema and other opposition parties blame the xenophobic attacks on the Zuma-led government. 

Looking directly at Zuma while delivering his speech, Malema said he had taught South Africans that violence was the only way to deal with issues, citing the killing of striking of mineworkers in Marikana as an example.

“You have lost control of the country because you have lost control of your family. Your own son [Edward Zuma] has stood up and said these people must go, and you do not address that. How can you rule over the country when you can’t even rule over your family? Your son is one example of a family member that you can’t whip into submission,” Malema said.

Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said the country should not stand by while human beings were being tortured and killed.

“I understand the frustration being felt by South Africans, especially unemployed youth, who struggle to access opportunities to improve their lives. Jobs are scarce. Our economy continues to exclude millions of South Africans,” Maimane said. 

“But to focus this anger and frustration on a small group of foreign nationals who have become unfairly vilified and victimised does not address the cause of that frustration. We must not turn xenophobia into a political football. We must not shy away from the root causes of the problem either. The root of this problem lies in our inability to bring about economic growth and decrease the inequality that plagues our nation.”

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi questioned the government’s slow response to violence when targeted at foreigners and said when the state was quiet, people died.

Calling for what he called “barbaric and inhumane attacks” to stop, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the cause of this violence was a country with high levels of poverty, with leaders only interested in lining their pockets.

“This has to come to a stop, if we are to redeem our image and attract investors,” Holomisa said. 

Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba condemned the attacks and said it must be emphasised that not all South Africans were involved in the savagery. Gigaba said it was wrong to claim that all immigrants were undocumented and illegal in South Africa.

“It is wrong to claim that all immigrants do not pay taxes and are therefore a drain on South Africa.”

Defending Zuma from Malema’s critical speech, Gigaba said the EFF leader was “the best student of the school of nuisance.”


South Africa – why is state security agency investigating AMCU leader

Mail and Guardian

The State Security Agency has been spying on the leader of the already paranoid Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was already troubled by personality clashes, regional disputes and rumours of attempts at personal enrichment. But official confirmation that leader Joseph Mathunjwa was under investigation by intelligence services was something akin to a spark in an explosively paranoid environment.

“There was always this thing about people [competing organisation the National Union of Mineworkers, NUM] being agents,” an Amcu shop steward in the platinum belt said this week. “Now the government gives us a piece of paper saying they are going to spy on Joseph, because they think he is a spy … Who do we trust now in our union?”

Amcu split from the ANC-affiliated NUM more than a decade ago, but only shot to prominence in 2012, when more than 40 people died in Marikana during a strike in which Amcu played a pivotal role.

Officially Amcu has shaken off the news of a State Security Agency (SSA) investigation into allegations of Mathunjwa’s involvement in “espionage activities”, announced last week, taking it only marginally more seriously than the general public reaction of perplexed amusement. Speaking anonymously, however, mid-ranking officials this week expressed serious concern about the effect just the existence of such an investigation would have on the work of the union.

Amcu faces key events in the coming months that will set its future course and determine what political effect it will have, including:

  • The submission by the Farlam commission of its Marikana massacre report, by the end of March;
  • Wage negotiations in the gold and coal mining sectors, where current agreements expire in June; and
  • Ongoing courting of the avowedly politically unaligned union by a number of left-wing organisations that will either contest or be involved in the 2016 local government elections.

Amcu members say there were already divisions on how the union should handle these matters, with sometimes fierce contests about whether Amcu should align itself with the new United Front or the Economic Freedom Fighters, or neither. With spies in the mix, everything becomes a great deal more complicated, including internal democracy.

“If I go against my leadership in a meeting and afterwards they tell people ‘that man is a spy for the government’ I won’t be safe walking home,” a disenchanted shop steward said.

That kind of paranoia is a direct result of a statement by the SSA last week that Mathunjwa, as well as public protector Thuli Madonsela, EFF leader Julius Malema and former DA parliamentary chief Lindiwe Mazibuko, was under investigation on allegations of espionage.


Amcu was a major player in the strike that led to 34 miners being gunned down at Marikana in 2012, which led to a flurry of intelligence interest in the trade union. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

“The State Security Agency, working with other departments within the security cluster, will institute an investigation in order to verify and determine the veracity of the allegations made,” the agency said.

The source of the allegations, the SSA said, was “social media platforms” and the blog africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com.

Despite its name, the website contains not intelligence leaks but conspiracy-laced musings of a user named “Derek” sans anything resembling credible evidence. The site, initially Portuguese, has links to Spanish websites and uses a logo associated with an African studies centre at Michigan State University.

Thanks to badly broken English the site does not quite call Mathunjwa an agent of the CIA (as it does Malema). It does, however, claim that Mathunjwa sought help from Otpor, a Yugoslav organisation credited in part with the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, which received United States support in the run-up to that regime change.

Extended belly laugh
These details of the publication, and the content of the allegations themselves, drew an extended belly laugh from a former intelligence officer, who said this week that such an allegation, had it been mailed to the SSA on a piece of paper, would have gone straight to the “crank pile”.

“The job is about analysis, right? First you have to screen out all the nonsense people waste your time with.” Although a junior may be tempted to take everything seriously for fear of missing a real threat, he said, it was the higher-ups’ job to suppress such fears, lest true threats to security slip past while they are swamped with outlandish conspiracy theories.

Intelligence insiders say Amcu was the subject of, at most, mild intelligence interest before August 2012. After the Marikana massacre, with sudden concerns about contagious violence, there was a scramble to establish an intelligence pipeline that could provide early warning. As the immediacy of the threat waned, so did the attempts at monitoring Amcu. Especially on the private front.

“Nobody wants to be caught with blood on their hands,” a person with strong links to private mine security in the Rustenburg area explained.


Put spying accusations in the mix and everything becomes a lot more complicated for Amcu, particularly as it faces wage negotiations and the Farlam commission findings. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Like the state, those responsible for managing and securing mines at an operational level developed an intense interest in any inside information about Amcu to be had immediately after the Marikana massacre. But cooler heads realised that intelligence can be a burden. Handle intelligence-gathering badly enough that an informant dies and you can be held responsible; gather intelligence that accurately predicts violence but fails to prevent that violence and you can be held responsible; fail to gather intelligence that predicts violence while trying to do so and you can be held responsible; get caught at any kind of privatised intelligence gathering and suffer at least public embarrassment.

And so private spying dwindled, apparently as the state also focused its attentions elsewhere, such as on the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

Numsa complaint
Before the end of March, Numsa plans to lay a complaint before the inspector general of intelligence – tasked with oversight of the intelligence services – about using state resources to monitor its activities. Confirmation that Amcu is being scrutinised by the same intelligence agencies could strengthen Numsa’s hand.

“If Amcu is being spied on it seems to give credence to Numsa’s allegations that it is also being spied on, as well as suggesting that the political intelligence mandate has widened once again to include organisations involved in lawful advocacy, who get on to the radar because they are considered inconvenient by the political elite,” said Jane Duncan, an academic at the University of Johannesburg and author of the recently published Rise of the Securocrats.

She describes a theoretical effect of political intelligence gathering that mirrors Amcu members’ experiences. “[S]urveillance … sows division and creates confusion within an organisation. It makes activists and unionists suspect one another when asking searching organisational questions.”

But, she says, it can also have the opposite effect, galvanising already democratic organisations into greater transparency, with immediate disclosure of approaches by spies or “suspicious occurrences”.

It can also galvanise civil society. The Numsa complaint shows early signs of becoming a rallying point for civil society organisations long concerned about intelligence interference in their work, and in particular about the interaction between police crime intelligence and community activists.

Over the next year several organisations, such as the Right2Know campaign, plan to challenge the accepted government wisdom that political stability is a matter of national security, and that spying on political groups is thus not only allowed but required.

Meanwhile, not everyone who suspects they have the intelligence services’s attention is entirely dismayed.

“Normally we work on the margins of society; it is often easy to ignore academics who don’t have a major social base or a political constituency,” says Patrick Bond, an overtly left-wing and politically involved academic at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 2014 he was one of a string of left-wing academics who suffered strange burglaries and data loss that they suspect, but could never prove, was related to intelligence dirty tricks.

“There’s not much one can do, except assume every email and every phone conversation is vulnerable to interception. But sometimes it backfires, it reaffirms the work you do and you find new energy in that attempt to intimidate.”


Increasing paranoia hobbles union and its president

Looming wage negotiations in the gold mining sector have provided some evidence of a co-ordinated external threat against the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), but insiders believe increasing paranoia in the union is a result of its own structural weaknesses rather than outside interference.

Members say Amcu has seen increased clampdowns on shop stewards seen as independent, with the biggest effect felt at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), in the North West, where Amcu enjoys its biggest constituency.

In a recent regional elective conference, Amplats’s crop of shop stewards – seen as the most autonomous in the platinum sector – were left out of the newly appointed regional structure. This, analysts believe, was because union leader Joseph Mathunjwa fears losing control of his creation.

“In particular, he has targeted critical thinkers who are the core leadership within the mines,” says University of Johannesburg-based academic Luke Sinwell. “But he has done so strategically, so that the individuals look bad when in fact they are not … When he started the union, he was organiser, spokesperson, a recruiter. He cannot accept a situation whereby individuals are now beginning to dictate some of the terms upon which the union will operate.”

Mathunjwa is also said to be increasingly paranoid because, beyond being the president of the union, he does not have a constituency of workers to speak of at branch level. That means he could easily be voted out of his position were the party to hold a national elective conference.

“[Ideally] the president of a union must be employed somewhere where a branch of the union exists so that it can remain a member-driven organisation,” says Bheki Buthelezi, a Democratic Left Front volunteer based in Rustenburg.

“All office bearers [should ideally] be mandated members of the union. The exception here would be secretaries and organisers, who are officials employed and paid solely by the union. That’s why he’s always tightly managing branches.”

Mathunjwa responded by SMS to initial attempts to reach him, but ultimately did not comment.

According to Sphamandla Makhanya, an Amplats-based shop steward who was recently expelled from the union, Amcu shop stewards remain by and large untrained, and the union shut down a Democratic Left Front- initiated training project when the union suspected it included political education, going beyond the strict parameters of the Labour Relations Act. Makhanya, who was accused of accepting R8 000 from a secret group of white men to “bring down the union”, has lodged a dispute with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for termination of contract without notice. He describes Mathunjwa’s attitude towards his shop stewards as one of “behave or jump”.

With issues confronting the union including a hotly contested Amcu-backed funeral scheme for members, mass meetings are being held behind locked gates. – Kwanele Sosibo


When (un)intelligence meets politics

February 1998
Defence force head Georg Meiring presents an intelligence report to President Nelson Mandela, alleging that the “Front African People’s Liberation Army” was planning to overthrow his government. Those cited as involved included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Michael Jackson. The report is officially rubbished as wholly fabricated.

April 2001
Minister of safety and security Steve Tshwete announces that Cyril Ramaphosa, Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale are under investigation about an alleged plot to overthrow then-president Thabo Mbeki. No substantial evidence is ever presented and Tshwete eventually apologises to all three.

September 2003
National Prosecuting Authority director Bulelani Ngcuka is dramatically “outed” as having been a spy for the apartheid government. An inquiry by retired Judge Joos Hefer finds no evidence that the allegations against Ngcuka are true.

August 2005
Businessman Saki Macozoma discovers that he is under surveillance. His complaints lead to an investigation that uncovers Project Avani, a counter-intelligence operation exploring foreign involvement in ANC succession. Avani “discovers” two conspiracies against the government: a Xhosa faction opposed to Zulu leadership of the country and white reactionaries in politics, the media and the Scorpions. Although easily proven to be fabricated, emails supposedly intercepted during the investigation are initially believed by officials as senior as Kgalema Motlanthe, and ultimately see the departure of intelligence officials only slightly less senior.

May 2007
The Special Browse Mole Report, prepared by the Scorpions anti-corruption unit, is leaked. The report alleges a conspiracy to overthrow the administration of Thabo Mbeki in favour of Jacob Zuma – possibly in a military coup – involving ANC military veterans in the defence force, Angola and Libya, among others. The report mixes truth with fantasy and is dismissed, as are officials involved in its creation.

March 2007
Intelligence officials start monitoring the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions, in part it seems as a result of the Browse Mole Report. Later that year they record conversations around the timing of reintroducing criminal charges against Jacob Zuma. Two years later these “spy tapes” are cited as the basis for a decision to discontinue the Zuma prosecution again.

October 2010
Suspended and arrested police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli apparently sends a “ground cover intelligence report” to Zuma; Mdluli later claims his signature was faked. The report alleges that a group including Cabinet ministers Sexwale and Fikile Mbalula were conspiring with others inside the ANC to unseat Zuma that December. Those named angrily dismiss the report as a work of fiction.

August 2013
Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi releases a report he says leaders in the union federation had circulated. The report claims Vavi’s political ambitions had him working with organisations in the United States in a bid to topple the government, and cited him as responsible for everything from xenophobic violence to the Marikana massacre. Supposed co-conspirators include deputy president Ramaphosa and Sexwale. – Phillip de Wet


South Africa – Malema, Madonsela and Mazibuko reject spy claims as rubbish

Mail and Guardian

Thuli Madonsela, Julius Malema, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and Joseph Mathunjwa have refuted claims that they are spies.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela said even a grade nine pupil could see that spy claim against her were 'rubbish'. (Demelza Bush, M&G)

Spy claims against Thuli Madonsela, Julius Malema, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Joseph Mathunjwa were dismissed as rubbish, according to their comments published by Beeld on Friday.

“A grade nine pupil could see it is rubbish,” said public protector Thuli Madonsela, after the State Security Agency (SSA) issued a statement on Thursday saying it was probing spying claims against the four.

SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said allegations against them led the agency to africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com, and other social media platforms.

Madonsela said she would lodge a formal complaint against the SSA and ask it to withdraw the statement.

She said it was “interesting” that it surfaced days before President Jacob Zuma answered questions in Parliament.

‘Madness’
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said: “I have never heard such madness in my life … Those people are clowns. Our biggest problem is that our ‘intelligence’ is not intelligent.”

Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said it was “rubbish” and a “waste of state resources” to investigate such allegations.

Mazibuko, former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader who is studying at Harvard, tweeted: “It’s pretty embarrassing that a SA cabinet minister would issue a press statement responding to a false blog post from the lunatic fringe” followed by a “sad face” emoticon.

Claims include that the CIA in Langley, US, has a file on Mazibuko saying she is trying to organise a “Pretoria version of the Arab spring”. – Sapa

South Africa – Zuma jibes aimed at Malema and EFF in SONA debate

Mail and Guardian

The president was in top form, from “commending” Julius Malema and calling Mangosuthu Buthelezi the “voice of reason”, to giving a history lesson.

In a jibe at the EFF, President Jacob Zuma commended Julius Malema for making valid points in the debate, 'considering they had not been there'. (David Harrison, M&G)

Going from sombre to funny to analytical – and even fitting in a history lesson in his 80 minute speech – President Jacob Zuma had MPs nodding, shaking their heads or clapping loudly as he delivered his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate.

The president even took time out to commend Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema for making valid points during the debate – considering they had not been there, a dig at Malema and his MPs, referring to them being thrown out of Parliament before the State of the Nation Address.

Addressing Malema’s concerns on part-time workers and labour brokers, Zuma said his concerns have been resolved.

“In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Acts as amended, all workers will be employed permanently. Temporary work contracts will not exceed three months, as honourable [Edwin] Makue also pointed out. In addition honourable members, the deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa] will continue to lead the Nedlac [National Economic Development and Labour Council] dialogue relating to a national minimum wage.”

In his debate to the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, Malema said  workers in hotels, restaurants, mining and construction sectors and retail shops did not enjoy the Freedom Charter as only a few had permanent jobs.

The Land Holdings Bill 
Addressing some of the concerns raised by opposition parties over the Land Holdings Bill and the restriction of foreign ownership, Zuma said it only applied to agricultural land.

“It does not affect those foreign nationals who are planning to buy homes or residences. We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few. We are keenly aware of the contribution of the country’s hard working farmers to the economy and food security. However, the effective participation of the previously excluded black majority in agriculture and food production will only occur meaningfully, when they have access to land and the means to work it.

“An inclusive and scientific process will be used to assess the situation in different commodities and in different localities, so as to make sure that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country.”

Supply chain management
In response to Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota’s concerns over supply chain management in government, Zuma said a centralised supplier database will be phased in from April.

“Once fully functional, this will replace the six hundred or so supplier databases that currently exist. The system will offer a quick and more effective mechanism for verifying supplier information, such as their BEE status, tax certificates and the like. These are factors that currently give rise to negative audit outcomes for departments.

The economic cluster departments will work with the National Treasury further to explore practical and effective mechanisms of using state procurement to give practical expression to the National Development Plan and our socioeconomic objectives, including supporting SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] and cooperatives.”

Buthelezi: ‘The voice of reason’
In the middle of his delivery, the president took time out to thank Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for always being the voice of reason when MPs are heckling each other.

“You sometimes resemble a father figure to us … It’s always good to have senior citizens around,” he said to Buthelezi, who took a bow from his seat.

Quality education a priority
Zuma said improving the quality of education and training remained a priority to government.

“Progress is being made to steadily improve outcomes in the basic education sector. We believe we have the right formula at last and that results in all grades will continue to steadily improve.

“The white paper for post-school education and training provides for the establishment of community education and training colleges that will primarily target youth and adults who did not complete schooling or who have never attended school.

The process of identifying nine community education and training colleges for piloting in 2015 has been completed. This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with local authorities, Sector Education and Training Authorities, community organisations and business. This is in addition to the re-opening of teacher and nursing colleges.”

A history lesson on colonialism
He reassured Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder that no one was chasing Afrikaner compatriots away from the country. This after Mulder, in his response to the State of the Nation Address, expressed concern over Zuma’s 103rd ANC party celebrations speech, where he stated that the problems in the Western Cape started with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck.

After delivering a history lesson on colonialism and the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and the Eastern Cape wars – while pointing out it was in the history books – Zuma told Mulder that South Africa belonged to all who live in it.